Dossier: Sunni Muslims | Sunni Islam

Portrait of the last Ottoman Caliph, Abdulmecid II. Photo: Library of Congress

History of the Caliphate

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We are all caliphs!

The history of the Caliphate is, with a few exceptions, an unstable and unhappy one. In this essay, Stefan Weidner explains why the self-appointed caliphs of today, like the ISIS leader in Iraq, have little in common with the caliphs of oldMore

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (left) during a visit to President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran (photo: AFP)

Iran's role in the Iraq conflict

An ally, but not a puppet

For many Sunnis in Iraq, the country's Shia prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, is a puppet of Iran. In the West too, the view that Tehran is pulling the strings in Iraqi politics is widely held. But what influence does Tehran really have in Iraq, and what role is it playing in the current crisis? Answers from Ulrich von SchwerinMore

Nouri al-Maliki (photo: AFP/Getty Images)

Nouri al-Maliki and the Iraqi crisis

Not the right guy for Iraq

The terror in Iraq is a Sunni rebellion against Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, writes Birgit Svensson in Baghdad, who lays the blame for the country's dire straits squarely at the door of its Shia head of governmentMore

A man reading the Koran (photo: Reuters)

Wahhabism and Salafism

Shared foundation – different methods

Wahhabis and Salafists are often named in the same breath. Yet these two ultra-orthodox faith movements do differ in a number of aspects, writes the doctor of Islam Studies Mohammad GharaibehMore

An anti-government protester gestures towards riot police during clashes in the village of Sanabis west of Manama, November 6, 2012. Hundreds of protesters march on the street of the village defying the ban on protests set by Bahrain's Ministy of Interior (photo: Reuters)

The Bahraini Activist Ala'a Shehabi

"We Are Being Spied On"

The Bahraini activist and blogger Ala'a Shehabi is certain that freedom of the press is unattainable in Bahrain, even within the framework of the national dialogue between the country's opposition and the leadership of the royal family. In an interview with Hisham al-Douriush, she tells how she and her colleagues are subject to surveillance by the Bahraini security apparatusMore

King Abdullah and members of the royal family (photo: dpa/picture-alliance)

Saudi Arabia

Facing a Plethora of Fundamental Challenges

The deterioration of Saudi Arabia's political influence has contributed to a growing sense of national decline. King Abdullah's reform efforts have lost steam. An essay by Tarek OsmanMore

US-President Barack Obama meets Saudi King Abdullah in Washington DC (photo: Roger L. Wollenberg/EPA)

Saudi Arabia and America

The Estrangement of Two Allies

Saudi Arabia feels as though it has been left in the lurch by the US. Primary thorns in the Saudis' side are Washington's energy policy, its rapprochement with Iran and its conduct in the Syrian conflict. Riyadh is now going its own way. By Rainer HermannMore

Shiite proitestors in Iran in 2013 (photo: icana.ir)

Sunni-Shia Relations

Plea for a Muslim Peace

The Grand Mufti Emeritus of Bosnia-Herzegovina Sheikh Mustafa Cerić looks to the past for lessons on improving Sunni-Shi'a relations in today's Middle East. They are the key to regional stability, he saysMore

Lebanese army troops fighting radical sheikh al-Assir in Sidon (photo: Reuters)

Tension between Sunnis and Shiites in Lebanon

New Lines of Demarcation

The effects of the war in Syria are being felt in Lebanon. Violent confrontations are flaring up between the Sunnis and the Shiites in a country in which several religious groups have to coexist. And there is no reason to assume that the situation will improve. Mona Naggar reports from BeirutMore

Anti-government demonstration in Ramadi, Iraq, in February 2013 (photo: Reuters)

Iraq Ten Years after Saddam

Disenchanted Nation

Ten years after the start of the Iraq War and the toppling of Saddam Hussein, Feisal Amin Rasoul al-Istrabadi reviews developments in the country and considers whether things are better or worse now than they were before the Allied invasionMore

Salafists pray in a pedestrian zone of a German city (photo: dpa/picture alliance)

Extremists in Germany

Right-wing Agitators versus Islamist Fanatics

They agitate, they incite, they are relentlessly intolerant: Salafists and those hostile to Islam continually whip each other into a frenzy with their mutual hatred. But no matter how much cold calculation the rightist rabble-rousers bring to their provocations, the law must protect them from persecution. A commentary by Hans LeyendeckerMore

Photo symbolising an Islamic religion class in a German school (photo: dpa)

Islamic Religion Classes in German schools

Who Decides?

After years of discussion and debate, the first German states are now introducing Islamic religion classes in public schools. However, because there are many different branches of Islam and no central authority to offer guidance, the question as to who should be allowed to decide on teachers and lesson content is leading to serious conflict. By Claudia MendeMore

The inner courtyard of Al-Azhar University (photo: picture alliance/Bibliographisches Institut/Prof. Dr. H. Wilhelmy)

Al-Azhar and and Pan-Islamic Rationalism

The Demise of Islamic Centres of Moderation

The spread of extremism in Muslim societies in the past century can be attributed to a largely overlooked trend: the demise of religious institutions that once had global reach. Focusing on Egypt's Al-Azhar university, Hassan Hassan takes a look into the matterMore

Front cover of Al-Ghazali's 'Tiber al-masbuk' manuscript at the American University of Beirut (image: www.alghazali.org)

The Decline of Islamic Scientific Thought

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Don't Blame It on al-Ghazali

Academics are correct in pinpointing the exact period in which Muslims began turning away from scientific innovation – the 11th century – but in Abu Hamid Al Ghazali they have identified the wrong person. By Hassan HassanMore

Yussuf al-Qaradawi (photo: picture-alliance/dpa)

The Shia-Sunni Conflict

The Most Deadly Religious War of our Time

Preachers like the Sunni legal scholar Yusuf Al-Qaradawi or the Shia Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati are propagating sectarian hate and exacerbating the divide between Islam's two major denominations. In this essay, Stefan Buchen explains how the religious war they have helped to unleash within Islam is having a catastrophic effect on the Greater Middle EastMore

Man passing by anti-Formula One protests mural in Manama, Bahrain (photo: Reuters)

Interview with the Bahraini Dissident Nabeel Rajab

''Our regime has to leave''

The Formula One Grand Prix took place in Bahrain as planned despite a storm of criticism and days of demonstrations. Kersten Knipp spoke to human rights activist Nabil Rajab about the situationMore

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